By Rob Senior
On Saturday, Sports Doc profiled Michael McKeeman, a 36-year old Ardmore resident and North Penn High School graduate who was considered a top contender in this year’s Philadelphia Marathon. McKeeman had come close in the past—finishing second in the 2006 race—but this year he wasn’t hedging his bets.
“My goal,” he said, “is to win the marathon.”
At about 9:20 Sunday morning, Michael McKeeman’s dream came true, as he crossed the finish line in 2:17:47. McKeeman became the first Philadelphia-area runner to take top honors since the modern version of the Philly Marathon began in 1994.
Sports Doc followed up with Michael McKeeman to discuss what he calls “the highlight of my running career.”
Five Questions with Philadelphia Marathon Champion Michael McKeeman
Describe your emotions, thoughts, etc. as you crossed the finish line?
McKeeman: Winning this race is something I had envisioned for years, so it's kind of overwhelming when everything comes together and it actually happens. I was both excited and relieved. It was the culmination of years of hard work. That's one of the great things about this sport— hard work and commitment pays off.
Were there any moments during the race where you wondered or doubted whether victory was possible?
McKeeman: Absolutely. I dropped back coming out of Manayunk, and I thought that was the end. The other guys looked strong, and my legs were heavy. I didn't think I'd be able to hang with them. Even when I took the lead for the final time at mile 23, I wasn't sure I'd be able to maintain it.
When did you know you had the race won?
McKeeman: I never really thought I had the race won until I saw the finish line. Crazy things can happen in the marathon, so you can never get too comfortable, even when you have the lead. Coming up the hill to the Art Museum my legs were getting so heavy. I was afraid my body was just going to run out of fuel and I'd have to crawl to the line.
Anyone you'd like to acknowledge or thank for making this possible?
McKeeman: Running is an individual sport, but winning a race like this one is truly a team effort. I couldn't have gotten to this point without the support of my parents and my wife Amanda. Also, I thank my coach Terrence Mahon, my sponsors Bryn Mawr Running Company and Power Bar Team Elite, as well as Barry Hooper, Rob Mahon, Jonathan Crooker, Ira Meyers, and Excel Physical Therapy who all helped piece me back together when my body was nursing some injuries leading up to the race.
What’s next for you? What do you do after winning in your hometown?
McKeeman: For the first time in a long time, I don't have any definitive running plans or goals. Since June this race has been the last day on my running calendar with nothing else on the horizon. I'm going to take some time off. I may train for some 5K races in the spring, but my plan is to retire from the marathon. Winning my hometown race is the perfect way to go out.